Finding it in Others, Part Two

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Shoulder Prep

Warm up:
Burgener Warm up
10 Bar taps
10 Split cleans with light dumbbells
10 Strict Pull ups
20 Walking Lunges

Five rounds for time of:
40 pound Dumbbells split clean, 15 reps
21 Pull-ups

Cool down:
Quad on wall, 1 minute per leg
Active bar hang

Light weight!  (Quite literally)

The Finding it in Others series came about when my friend and co-owner of CrossFit Pacific Coast, Eric Malzone asked me if I wanted to guest program 1 week for their box.  I said it would be an honor, but only on the condition that he compose 3 guest posts for me, and of any topics of my choosing.  The first post dealt with advice for beginners, and for this second one, I asked him how changes in nutrition, especially Paleo/Zone style, affects life both inside and outside the gym.  His tale begins with the usual fare, but grows and evolves into something much more staggering.

I always tell athletes, especially those beginning to give serious consideration to their nutrition, the biggest spike I see in performance is when somebody dials in their diet.  Athletes report that they recover faster, they resolve stubborn respiratory issues, they lose chronic pain and aches, and have that “extra gear” in a metcon,  etc. etc.

On a macro level, the discipline that is necessary and acquired during a nutritional shift reaches into all other aspects of their life.  When I did my first nutritional challenge with LaLanne Fitness in San Francisco, I wrote on their blog that I was worried my friends wouldn’t want to hangout with me anymore if I followed the Zone diet.


People thought it was hilarious but the funny thing was that I wasn’t joking.  People will undoubtedly project their lack of knowledge and discipline onto those who are taking control of their health…whether you make it public or not.  I do believe that social aspect is one of the most difficult components of making the initial shift, but once an individual rises above that, they are in a position to significantly improve the quality of their life.

As far as life in general, I’d like to share a story about my brother, Chris… 

Chris is 7yrs older then me and has always been highly active and taken pride in his level of fitness.  He was an All-American swimmer at Long Beach State and has competed in numerous triathlons.  It’s always pissed me off at the ease with which he could lean out whenever he wanted. 

On another note, Chris has also had a lifetime of gastrointestinal issues.  After he hit 30, they got increasingly more frequent and severe.  In 2001, he traveled to South Africa (he does a tremendous amount of international work travel) and came home with the worst case of food poisoning he’s ever had.  Trip after trip, the issues got worse and worse upon his return home.  Like all Malzone men, he had issues with an overactive mind, which also led to bouts of insomnia.  At that time, he didn’t see any relation between the insomnia and digestive issues.

By the time Chris hit 40, the insomnia had become an issue that needed to be dealt with.  He started to self-medicate with Tylenol PM on a regular enough basis that it eventually became ineffective.

  Chris then went to a doctor who, over a span of a year, prescribed numerous sleep-aids including but not limited to, Ambien and Lunesta.  Once those become ineffective, the doctor start prescribing anti-anxiety medications simply because they came with the side effect of increased sleepiness.  While he was on Lunesta, Chris’s wife found out that he was sleep walking and mixing cocktails of sleep-aids in the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Chris had no recollection of this, but it’s every bit as dangerous as it sounds (think Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson).

At this point Chris was stuck in a cycle of anxiety and depression that severely impacted his relationship with his wife, kids, our parents, his work and his siblings.

  At one point, he went on a 2-week work trip to Brazil and came back 25 pounds lighter due to lack of sleep and poor nutrition.  He was also registering suicidal thoughts on a frequent basis.

Enough was enough.  He went and saw a new doctor in San Luis Obispo that was famous for his diagnosis and he told Chris to
immediately stop seeing his current doctor, clear out his medicine cabinet, and go see another doctor for some testing.

Fearing for his life and his family, he followed the doctor’s directions to the word and went through 5 of the most difficult days of his life.  The withdrawals were severe and he didn’t sleep more then 6 hours over that 5-day period.

When the clouds lifted, he called and set up an appointment for an ALCAT test.  When he went in, his blood pressure was 150/95, his resting heart rate was 72, and his cholesterol was 425 (LDL through the roof).  The testing revealed that he was intolerant to high glycemic foods.  He’d heard me talk many times about Paleo and decided to cut grains, gluten, and sugar out of his diet completely. 

The difference was immediate and drastic!  4 weeks later he went in for another blood test in which he found that his BP was 120/70, his RHR was 58, and cholesterol was 180.  These numbers are almost identical to mine. 

Since the dietary changes were made, Chris has reestablished strong relationships with his family and wife, accepted a promotion to Vice President of his company, and most of all, is happy and fun to be with.  He’s sleeps most nights soundly and in a deep R.E.M. state.

In his own words, he admits that if he stayed on that path, he would probably be divorced, in a mental institution, dead…or all three. 

If you don’t think food matters, think again

Eric Malzone Owner CrossFit Pacific Coast, Inc. Santa Barbara, CA

Post thoughts to comments.  And coming soon, the return of the 201.

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